Shared history of two families leads to new owner for J.H. Bechtold

Nov. 13, 2018

When Steve Bechtold told Thomas Faini that his family’s jewelry store might be in its last generation, Faini said he knew he had to keep the business going.

“Sioux Falls just shouldn’t be without a Bechtold Jewelry,” said Faini, who started F&H Private Jewelers and Thomas James Jewelers earlier this year.

He’s in the process of buying J.H. Bechtold Inc., which dates back to 1902.

“Bechtold is synonymous with Sioux Falls.”

The transition has already started. Bechtold will keep its name and downtown location on Phillips Avenue. Paul Bechtold, Steve’s brother, will continue to work there, as will Paul’s son Taylor, who is part of the fourth generation, Faini said.

“Paul is still there,” Faini said. “He’s not going away. He has some experience we can’t replace.”

Faini’s staff, including his son Victor, will “bounce between downtown and here,” he said of their new shop at 3400 W. 49th St.

Paul Bechtold said the family is pleased that the store isn’t closing.

“So many of the longtime jewelers are gone,” Bechtold said. “We are the last jewelry store downtown. … We did not want to see the business go the way of all the others.”

He considers Faini to be a master goldsmith and said the families respect each other’s skills.

“We feel good about the store going forward, he said. “We feel it will be in good hands.”

The two families share a history that dates back to 1950 when Sioux Falls jewelry store owners ran an ad in a trade magazine looking for a goldsmith, Bechtold said. Faini’s father, Larry, was working at a jewelry shop in New York and knew South Dakota goldsmith Herb Hunt. Larry visited Sioux Falls and ended up moving his family here to start F&H Repair Inc. The  Bechtold store was his father’s first client, Faini said.

Faini and his brother joined their father in the trade, and F&H eventually added retail jewelry services. Faini said he left that business, Faini Designs Jewelry Studio, earlier this year to return to the family’s original roots of jewelry design and repair work for jewelry stores.

F&H Private Jewelers does that wholesale work, and Faini ended up adding the retail store, Thomas James Jewelers, because he had individual clients who still wanted him to design their jewelry.

Faini will add a repair shop in the lower level of Bechtold, and some of his custom pieces will be available in the downtown store. He’ll also carry some of Bechtold’s jewelry lines in the 49th Street location.

Both businesses have built solid reputations over the decades with generations of families as customers and knowing that what they are providing for customers are expressions of love, he said.

“I view it as two families coming together and continuing the legacy.”

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Shared history of two families leads to new owner for J.H. Bechtold

Thomas Faini is buying the century-plus-old business J.H. Bechtold Inc., preserving the legacy of the city’s oldest jewelry store.

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